Red Hill Repairs Finished, Awaiting DoH Validation and Approval Before Defueling
by Heather Mongilio, USNI News, June 29, 2023
All repairs to the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, mandated by the Hawaii Department of Health, are complete, Joint Task Force – Red Hill announced in a Wednesday night news release.
Although repairs are completed, a number of repairs still need to be validated and submitted to the Department of Health for review.
Repairs to the facility are one of the necessary steps before the Joint Task Force can completely defuel it. There were 253 repairs, enhancements and modifications required by the Hawaii Department of Health, according to the dashboard set up by the Joint Task Force.
“Today marks a tremendous milestone for our team. Completing the repairs paved the way for us to safely proceed with defueling operations – an immense undertaking ensuring the facility’s safety and mitigating potential risks,” Vice Adm. John Wade, commander of the joint task force, said in a statement.
Of the 253 repairs, 212 have been submitted for validation and submitted to the Department of Health, according to the dashboard. Hawaii’s health department has conditionally approved 76 repairs.
During the validation process, the repairs go through a quality control and quality assurance check. They will then go through quality validation.
“QV reassures the Hawaii DOH and the public that JTF-RH properly completed all recommended repairs, enhancements, and mitigation measures,” reads the release.
The Hawaii Department of Health conditionally approved the Department of Defense’s defueling plan for Red Hill. The Pentagon submitted its most recent supplement to the plan in May. Defueling, which will use gravity to drain the majority of the fuel, is scheduled to commence on Oct. 16, 2023 and finish by Jan. 19, 2024.
As part of the conditional approval, the Hawaii Department of Health will still need to approve repairs to Red Hill as well as a number of plans. These include the operational plan for defueling the surge tanks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the plan for repacking pipelines, which involves filling repaired lines with fuel before defueling, and the plan for unpacking, which is how the Joint Task Force will remove fuel after gravity defueling. It will also need to approve the plan for removing the fuel left in pipelines and surge tanks once gravity defueling is finished.
The defueling process is currently in the National Environmental Policy Act comment phase, which ends June 30. Comments can be submitted on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command website.